You look at the pictures with jealousy when someone you know is traveling. Maybe you’re at work as you scroll through your social media accounts, and you wonder why their life is so much better. Perhaps you think the exact opposite. Perhaps the idea of traveling mortifies you, and the sense of comfort you’ve created for yourself is where you’d rather be.

Well, to those of you who look on with jealous eyes, think twice.

The truth is, traveling is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Between creating an itinerary, changing the itinerary as you go, booking accommodation, finding activities, and making sure you have enough money to cover everything, the stress of travel is real.

Throw a dog in the mix like we’ve done now, and everything turns completely upside down.

When I went to New Zealand, I had only myself to worry about. I wanted a sense of adventure, to drop everything and go, and to live freely without the chains imposed on me by society. Back then, I thought that year was the hardest of my life.

Then I decided to explore all 50 states.

Here’s the thing.

I knew America was big.

A sideways glance at a map can show it’s one of the largest countries in the world. I never expected this to be a small journey, but there’s one lesson I’ve picked up that has put a lot of things into perspective for me:

When it comes to traveling, there’s a big difference between traveling for pleasure and traveling for business.

Before I left for New Zealand, I took The Ultimate Travel Writer’s Course. I found that at a time in my life where I felt stuck, and I wanted something more. I wasn’t happy where I was, and I wanted to know what lay beyond the horizon, and I didn’t want to get stuck in any one place until I had gone out and seen what my options were. All of my options.

Does that mean I won’t settle until I’ve been to every country?

I hope not.

But when I started traveling, it was to seek freedom. To find my place in this world, and to learn who I was without anyone else’s opinions. When you travel, sometimes you go days without showering. Or fixing your hair. Hell, sometimes you even go a week in the same clothes.

But none of that matters. All of the thoughts about how you look and how you act and how you belong go right out the door. There’s a sense of liberation that washes over you when people give you strange looks.

You don’t know anything about my life.

After that comes the total loss of time, for when you live free, time does not exist. Is today Saturday, Sunday, or Wednesday? Am I still in April, or is it all of a sudden November? What do you mean we’re still in 2017? You get too wrapped up in living, and not by a schedule written weekly by someone who demands a certain amount of your time.

I look back on that trip to New Zealand, and I miss that sense of freedom. Of not having any cares. What makes the United States so much different — so much harder — is the fact that I’ve decided to make a business out of traveling the world.

The essence of this trip formed out of the depression that followed me home from New Zealand. I’d heard about post-trip depression, but I’d underestimated it. The idea of going back to “reality,” having things defined for me, having someone trying to control my life, made me sick.

It still does.

I’ve tasted the life freedom offers, and I refuse to let the taste turn bitter just because it can’t last forever.

So I made a decision: Make a business out of travel. New Zealand was the introduction. United States is the main event.

With all of that being said, here’s a few things I learned during my time in Oregon and Washington, also referred to as the Pacific Northwest:

  • Cribbage is fun.
  • California is not part of the PNW.
  • Driving through the snow is terrifying, and got in the way of us going to Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, the Olympics, and the North Cascades.
  • Piper only reacts to things when we’re around. When we’re not, she doesn’t care about anything.
  • Bend is the most dog-friendly area in Oregon. But be careful driving to and from it when there’s snow.
    If you’re ever going to Portland, you MUST check out Powell’s City of Books. You MUST.
  • It’s not worth paying to see the top of the Space Needle.
  • Traveling with a dog is equally rewarding and difficult. Although it’s not necessarily difficult to find dog-friendly accommodation, some hotels are more pet-friendly than others.
  • The weather can make or break the trip. Flexibility with the itinerary is key.
  • Money can ruin the experience, but you have to do what you can to make it not like that.
  • If you travel for business, don’t let the business side get in the way of the experience.
  • If you’re traveling with a friend or significant other, don’t hold on to little grudges and fights.
  • Stay positive — bad things happen!
  • Enjoy the travel. Be present at all times and don’t only see your surroundings through the lense of your camera.
  • Piper loves the snow:

 

The west coast of America is something to behold, and there’s no doubt about it.

Through our time in Oregon and Washington, we were able to see some of the finest scenery this country has to offer.

At that, the PNW was the starting point in me changing my opinion of America. Before we left, I was scared. I didn’t know what to think, or what would happen. All we saw on the media and in the news was negativity, and I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to find anything positive.

I’m happy I was wrong. And I have the Pacific Northwest to thank for helping me start to change my mind.


Have you ever been to the Pacific Northwest? What did you do? If you’ve never been, what’s on your list? Let me know in the comments!